Helping Students Use Mistakes as a Learning Opportunity

When students embark on developing the desired skills, such as solving early puzzles or creating circles instead of random scribbles, they often face the challenge of not achieving it “correctly.” Despite reassurances that there are no right or wrong ways to start and that practice leads to improvement, many still encounter distress.

There are misconceptions among students regarding mistakes. Some believe that quick comprehension indicates knowledge, while others see mistakes as a reflection of lower intelligence.

For many students, the fear of making a mistake in front of their peers and enduring self-inflicted embarrassment is paramount. It’s essential to convey that all their classmates share similar fears. Understanding that setbacks offer opportunities to reconfigure their brains’ inaccurate memory patterns, which if left uncorrected, could hinder future comprehension. Navigating through periods of confusion strengthens the durable networks their brains eventually establish. Allowing students to make and rectify mistakes with positivity enhances their comprehension and reinforces the formation of accurate learning connections.

“An error recognized in homework, tests, or class participation can be disheartening, but with prompt feedback and chances to rectify erroneous memory, their brains rewire neural pathways by avoiding the same mistake next time.”

Judy Willis

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